Turkey has become a business hub for many companies and some of them are now moving their headquarters here. This raises an issue that I have written several articles related to: work permits. I still receive lots of emails in my inbox about work permits; therefore I am writing about this topic again.
According to the Law on Work Permits for Foreigners, numbered 4817, dated March 6, 2003, foreigners are required to obtain a work permit before starting work in Turkey independently or with a specific job offer, unless otherwise stipulated by bilateral or multilateral agreements between the foreigner’s home country and Turkey.
In accordance with the law, foreigners may apply for a temporary work permit (i), permanent work permit (ii) or independent work permit (iii) when certain conditions are met. Under exceptional circumstances, a foreigner may be granted a work permit without consideration of any time limits. Unless not stipulated to the contrary by any bilateral and multilateral agreements in which Turkey stands as a party, work permits are issued for a period of a maximum of one year, for a specific business or operation and for a specific occupation, taking into account the conditions prevailing in the business world, developments in the labor environment and variations in economic conditions, the foreigner’s residence permit, the duration of the job contract and the duration of the work concerned. In cases where foreigners have resided in Turkey for a period of eight years officially and uninterruptedly, and foreigners have officially held a job with experience cumulating in six years, they may be issued work permits with indefinite duration (permanent work permits). Also, the Ministry of Labor may issue independent work permits to foreigners who will work independently, on the condition that such foreigners have resided in Turkey officially and uninterruptedly for a period of five years.
Applications for work permits can be made either abroad or within Turkey. Please keep in mind that since a Turkish identification number is required for an electronic application, foreigners need to authorize a Turkish citizen with a power of attorney to assist them. Foreigners may apply for a work permit inside Turkey in cases in which they have a six-month residence permit. In other words, with a valid residence permit (valid for a minimum of six months, except for residence permits for educational purposes), it is possible to apply for a work permit in Turkey. Otherwise, you can apply through a Turkish consulate in your home country.
If you apply for a work permit outside of Turkey, you need to sign a work agreement with an employer and submit it to the consulate along with your application. The consulate examines your documents and gives you a number. You inform your employer of this number, then your employer makes an online application to the ministry within 10 days of the number being assigned by the consulate.
If all documents submitted are complete, the work permit issuing process will take around 30 days. Also please note that at the workplace for which the work permit is requested, at least five Turkish citizens must be employed. If a foreigner who requests a work permit is a co-partner of the company, records of the employment of five persons who are Turkish citizens will be necessary for the last six months of a one-year work permit to be granted by the ministry. If a work permit is requested for more than one foreigner at the same workplace, each foreigner following the first foreigner who is granted a work permit will also need to meet the condition of showing five additional employees who are Turkish citizens. Please also note that the provision of five Turkish citizens does not apply to foreign key personnel to be employed in companies, branches and liaison offices active within the framework of the Direct Foreign Investments Law, number 4875.
In addition, foreigners who come to Turkey for working purposes should apply for their residence permit within one month of their date of entrance and, under any circumstances, before the start of their first day of work.
NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to [email protected] If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise expressly stated by the sender.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.